HJ - Facade Project Dedication

With the businesses on the square creating the backdrop, dozens attend a ceremony to dedicate the town’s heart after more than a year of improvements to certain properties. Property owners, a federal grant, the city of Clarinda, Page County, Clarinda Foundation and donors contributed toward the project. (Herald-Journal photo by John Van Nostrand)

Traffic driving through and people milling around isn’t anything new to the Clarinda square. But the facelift it has received over the past year is.

The city of Clarinda and Clarinda Chamber of Commerce sponsored a ceremony Saturday, Sept. 28 at the corner of Washington and 16th streets to dedicate the square’s new look.

“The final product is stunning,” said Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, a guest speaker for the morning event. “”This will spur even more growth and development in downtown.”

A total of 12 local businesses around the square participated in the project as improvements were made to 17 store fronts. Grand Contracting of Red Oak was the general contractor for the project and RDG Planning and Design served as the architects of the project.

Work ranged from tuck-pointing, new paint, signs and windows.

The first-term Senator from Montgomery County called the project a “tireless effort” by all involved.

“You have a lot to be proud of,” she said.

State Rep. Cecil Dolecheck of Ringgold County said it was fun to watch the progression of the work during his visits to Clarinda. Dolecheck’s 24th district includes all of Page, Taylor and Ringgold counties and a southern portion of Montgomery.

The Clarinda Foundation donated $125,000 and the city of Clarinda donated $50,000. Other donations were from Clarinda Youth Corporation, Cornerstone Bank, Bank Iowa, PCSB, Page County Board of Supervisors and anonymous donor totaling $250,000.

“It was a community effort. Without the hard work, these things don’t happen,” he said.

Clarinda was initially awarded a $500,000 CDBG for the facade project in April 2015. However, in June 2016, the federal grant was revoked due to a clerical error. As a result, the city had to reapply for a CDBG in January 2017.

Property owners contributed a cumulative total of $250,000 which is 25 percent of the cost.

Clarinda Foundation Executive Director Pam Herzberg said she was occasionally asked by others why the project was taking longer to finish than expected.

She said as the storefronts were dismantled, unexpected issues were found with the buildings.

“And that was a blessing for some owners,” she said.

It was not all building fronts as part of the work.

The Clarinda Foundation awarded the city of Clarinda a matching grant to develop two garden areas on the square. One of those garden areas is on the corner of 16th and Washington Street. The other will be on North 15th Street next to Bank Iowa’s main office. Herzberg said work on the North 15th area will begin next year.

“The community takes pride. Clarinda is a great place to live, work and raise a family,” Herzberg said.

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